It's Ash Wednesday and people around the world are beginning their fast for the 40 days between now and when we will celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. There have been years where I have chosen to withhold from something in an attempt to experience suffering like Christ endured for me on the cross. I will admit that while I have succeeded during my Lenten seasons, the suffering I experience is like nothing of the pain I imagine my savior took on for me. In fact, sometimes I think we try and approach Lent with a double-edged sword. We want to give something up and in return we want to boast that we had the will-power to see it through. Or perhaps come Easter morn, we want to don our Sunday best, a few inches thinner because of our ability to give up sweets for forty days. To me, Lent often falls flat because individuals fail to rely on Christ to see them through their "suffering" or to use it as a time to draw closer to him. Too often I look around at throngs of people twisting a marked time of spiritual growth into a second round of New Year's resolutions. This is not to say that I have yet to witness a spiritual transformation during these times. I have friends and family that I have seen remove afforded luxuries from their lives and have arrived on Easter, closer to Christ and more profoundly aware of the ultimate gift our Savior bled for us.
The 40 days of Lent are a time for us to journey with Jesus into the desert. Through self-denial, repentance, and prayer we are able to prepare our hearts to hear the message of the greatest sacrifice of all time. Nate and I have been talking about Lent the past week or so in an attempt to pinpoint what would be appropriate for us to abstain from for such a time as this. Since neither of us drinks coffee or takes trips to Starbuck's that suggestion immediately flies out the window. Or perhaps that is our answer and we just appear so well-disciplined to our peers, not even flinching without caffeine for 40 days. Albeit, that clearly won't work since I just divulged our secret. Last night, as we sat talking after our devotions we came to the conclusion that we already feel like we are on a journey with Jesus in the desert. While this year has been such a blessing to us because we have become a family, it has been a year marked with discouragement, loneliness, and depression.
Our move to Seattle has been difficult. We have yet to connect with people in a way in which we would have hoped. Being far away from our families and are best friends has left both of us lonely and frustrated. While God has provided a roof over our heads and food to eat, we feel as if we are barely keeping ourselves afloat financially. I have found myself in the trenches of depression while dealing with physical pain on a daily basis. In the past couple of weeks we have discovered that I am in need of yet another surgery and both our spirits feel weak as we come to grips with what that will require emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. And while we are only a few states north of what feels like "home," we feel like we are in a foreign land lacking lifelines.
Yesterday, we came across the verse, "Do as you promised...that your name will be great forever," in 1 Chronicles 17:23-24. It was a beautiful reminder to us that if we pray God's promises we can say with confidence that He will do as promised. Often times, we ask for things in our prayer life that we are not sure line up with His purpose and plan for our life. Instead, if we spend time praying for His promises to reign true in our lives, we are sure that they will reveal themselves.
And so that was that. We claimed as a couple, that for this Lenten season, it will not be about denying ourselves candy, facebook, or lemonade. For 40 days, we will claim the promises He gives to us from His word. Each day we will focus on one promise from the scriptures, spend time in prayer asking for it in our lives, and we will journey with Him as He reveals His truths and does as He has promised.
The Lenten season is about taking stock and reflecting on the goodness and selflessness of our Lord. In a time when much of life feels like a desert, we will claim His promises and we will clothe ourselves in His truths daily. For we believe, that it is only through His strength, faithfulness, and love that we have made it thus far and will continue on until our completion.
Feel free to check back here as we post the 40 promises, one each day of Lent, that we will cling to during this season and every day after as we all know life can get a bit bumpy.
Blessings and peace to you on your 40 day journey. Forgive us in advance for rejoicing prematurely in His faithfulness and if we don't show up on Easter Sunday a few pounds lighter.